Rediscovering my Independence Day spirit

Thursday, July 11, 2019
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Dino Dave’s Adventures

Ahhh….the Fourth of July. “Bah Junebug!” You see, I have turned into Scrooge’s long lost distant relative… Uncle Scram. I’ve lost the Independence Day spirit. I can think of nothing more symbolic to celebrate America than entertaining ourselves with expensive sparks of instant gratification … all made in China. As my once peaceful small town did its best Beirut imitation, I leaned back in my recliner, gazed at my “Get off my lawn!” cross stitch on the wall (ok, I didn’t really have that cross stitch, but I kind of wish I did) and closed my eyes hoping to skip another 4th. “Bah Junebug!” I said again and drifted to sleep as best one would in a war zone.

Then suddenly, the Ghost of Independence Day past entered the room! He looked just like my 9th grade shop teacher, only HIS missing fingers were from a short-fused cherry bomb back in 76. With eyes of a glowing lit punk and fingernails of a burnt snake firework he spoke to me, “Dinodave! Where has your Independence Day spirit gone?” I should have been scared, but I was too busy thinking to myself, “Please don’t shake my hand with those missing fingers. It always weirds me out.” Anyway, the ghost of Independence Day then showed me the summer of 1982.

He brought me to my 10th birthday party, “Your birthday is at the end of June for crying out loud! You always got a bag of fireworks for your birthday and they were always your favorite!”

I stared at myself staring at that plain paper bag. He’s right. I loved getting fireworks on my birthday. Every year it was also the same thing. Mom would plead, “Now you wait until the 4th to light those!” and every year I gave the same response. I gave three Kardashian sized, “BUT… BUT….BUT…….it’s my birthday!” No kid gets in trouble on his birthday and I would immediately run down to the river and light as many as I could until the old guy with the house on the corner and the “Get off my lawn!” cross stitch on his living room wall started yelling at me. Life was simple as a 10 year old. Since the dawn of man, mankind has searched for Nirvana, self-actualization, fullness of joy, whatever you want to call it. I will tell you now, it is achieved by a 10-year-old boy and a bag of fireworks.

The ghost then brought me to the next year when I had my birthday at our family’s cabin outside of Yellowstone Park. Once again, I received another brown bag of fireworks. I hovered near it like Smeagol of Lord the Rings. “My Precious!” I had four brothers in the family, who were also after my precious. However, I had been well programmed by Smokey the Bears “Only you can start forest fires” ads during the commercials of Dukes of Hazard episodes. I was surrounded by a forest and I was doing all I could to wait until the 4th under supervision this year. Speaking of fires, there was always a fire going at our cabin. My grandma was visiting that year. All the five boys and sister were outside of the cabin playing and mom, like shoveling snow in a snowstorm figured this was a good time to clean. She came across a brown paper bag that looked like garbage. With my grandma sitting by the fire getting toasty my mom threw my plain brown paper bag of fireworks into the fire!

WHiZZZ! ZING!!!!!! KAPOW! Mom and grandma just treated themselves to the best living room firework display in the history of living room firework shows. Mom was screaming as if the British were coming and grandma danced like it was 1929 again. My only regret was that I had missed this greatest 4th of July show of all time because I was out playing, and now … the Ghost of Independence Day past had shown it to me. God bless America.

Then the Ghost of Independence Day present visited. He showed me the text my buddy sent me before I drifted to sleep. It read “I’ll be lighting Whistling Bungholes at the house tonight!”. The ghost then brought me to his house. Not only did he have Whistling Bungholes, he bought Pink Elephants, Nuclear Sunrises, Hot Flashes, M5s, Bazookas and even one named the Trump! It was a glorious stash. The 10-year-old inside me was in awe! My buddy must have spent $1000 on something that lasted maybe an hour. I asked the Ghost of Independence Present, “But… what about all good we could do with all this blown money??” He replied, “This is the USA baby, we still do all that too. Now shut-up and enjoy the show.” They then started to light the Trump. I yelled out, “You’re fired!” Nobody laughed.

Next, the Ghost of Independence Day future arrived. “Hey…..Why do I only have three fingers?!” I asked, but before he could reply I was awakened by another text from my buddy. “Whistling Bungholes dude! You coming??”

I jumped out of my recliner, ran to my closet and put on everything I owned that was red, white and blue. My attitude changed with every boom that I once thought was irritating. On this day, each boom results in a reaction that produces awe, wonder, joy and excitement. In a country that isn’t free those same booms produce reactions of fear, sadness, bloodshed and heartbreak. I had found my Independence Day spirit once again. “Alexa….play some Toby Keith! I have some Whistling Bungholes to go watch!” God Bless America.

Dave Fuqua is a Glendive native. You can find out more about him on his youtube channel Dinodave Paleo Adventures. He can be reached at